Part 4 of 6.
Part 4: She and I As One Person
I’ve wanted to be a father for most of my life, and I told Brooke of this fact before we’d even started dating. But, one of the many, many things Brooke has conveniently forgotten since we separated is this fact: I preferred adoption over childbirth. I wanted Brooke to be the mother of my child, and I somehow knew she would be, but what I wanted was to adopt. To be even more honest, a small part of the reason I wanted to adopt was to skip the first five-ish years of development. I never wanted to endure diapers and endless crying and just not being able to have a conversation with my child. Thus, I wanted to skip the first five years. The main reason I wanted to adopt, though, is because there are countless kids out there who need to be adopted, and need to be adopted by someone who’s been there. As a former foster child myself, I’ve always felt I have a moral obligation to adopt. And to be even more honest, another part of the reason I wanted to adopt is because the people I’m most closely related to have a wide variety of huge personal issues. As much as I always wanted a daughter, I thought my daughter would be better off not sharing my blood.
So, when Brooke’s current boyfriend can’t stop himself from revealing what Brooke has told him, and he tells me “No wonder Brooke left you after you used her to make a child,” it just comes to show how much he and Brooke have no clue what they’re talking about. I wanted to adopt. That was my priority, and I made that abundantly clear when Brooke and I started dating.
At the same time, I wanted to share a child with the love of my life. At the same time, I wanted to make a person with Brooke, as a spiritual and romantic gesture. I wanted us to make our greatest treasure. I wanted there to be someone in this world who is both she and I as one person. So, a little more than half of me preferred to adopt, while a little less than half of me wanted to make a beautiful child with the love of my life; a walking embodiment of my love for Brooke.
So, these are all the reasons I was on the fence about Brooke getting pregnant. I didn’t actively desire that she got pregnant, but I wasn’t against the idea, either. Two weeks into dating her, one day I very simply asked her if she was willing to stop taking birth control. I wanted the possibility to be there. When I asked her, she agreed to it no problem. I was surprised at how willing she was to possibly get pregnant by me, and so I asked her about it. She said she wouldn’t have dared to get pregnant by Dylan, which of course was when she first started taking birth control, but she said that it was different with me; she wasn’t afraid of getting pregnant with my child at all. And since she and I aren’t together anymore, I’ll add this as well: While we were talking that day, she told me the story of when she lost her virginity to Dylan, and that it made her cry, because she was terrified of getting pregnant by him.
She had a very late period in June and she was certain she was pregnant then. But she took a test and announced from the bathroom it was negative. Then, in July, she was late again, and this time was even more convinced she was pregnant. She took the test again, then walked very slowly downstairs to tell me that it read positive. I knew it read positive just from the fact that Brooke didn’t call it out from the bathroom. My reaction was … being lightheaded. The first people I told were Lana and Larry. They knew before anyone else. Brooke wanted to tell her relatives by ceremoniously announcing it.
Brooke waited until another day to tell her immediate family (as in mother, stepfather, half-siblings …, and grandparents since the bunch was living with the grandparents at the time). The day she told them, her sister offered her some alcohol for some reason, even though Brooke literally never drinks alcohol, and I reacted by strongly saying, “No.” It was at that moment her mother realized why we were there visiting. So, there was no surprise from the females when Brooke presented everyone with baby socks and announced she’s pregnant. Jeff, the wonderful stepfather he always was, had been working on one of his trucks the whole time, and when Brooke made the announcement, he didn’t stop what he was doing, or even so much as look up. He was fewer than ten feet away from Brooke at that moment, so it’s not possible that he didn’t hear her. All he could be bothered to do was give Brooke an awkward side-hug when we were leaving.
As for the other two branches of Brooke’s family, Brooke told them on other days. I remember we were outside at night, around a campfire when Brooke told her mother’s family (I don’t remember exactly where we were). And I think she told her father and his family via phone call, since they lived so far away and it would have taken too long to tell them in person.
I was extremely reluctant to have sex with Brooke while she was pregnant, because I feared what effect that would have on our developing child. Actually, come to think of it, I think Brooke wanted sex more often than I did during those 41 weeks. I told Brooke I was worried about sex possibly harming our baby, and Brooke chuckled at that, saying people have sex while pregnant all the time, which I knew, but I was still afraid. Around the point that Brooke’s bump became too large for her to sleep face-down, that was around the time we cut down on how often we had sex. Toward the end of her pregnancy, when her belly was enormous, Brooke had to urge me to have sex, since she read that it helps cause natural labor induction. I was more reluctant than ever at that point in her pregnancy.
(You’ll know why I’m talking about this so much when I post part 5.)
Another one of my mistakes during my marriage was not immediately looking into prenatal care for Brooke until about a month after we learned she was pregnant. It wasn’t until her aunt Michelle, the only person in that entire family who has any balls, got on our case about it and demanded we start. I had considered prenatal care, but I just assumed (without doing research) that it would cost too much, and Brooke was only 21 at the time, so I was over-trusting of her youth. I’m glad Michelle gave us the push we needed to get going on that.
Brooke and I almost never argued during our marriage, and even when we did, not even our worst argument at the end was that bad. We only ever really argued about one subject for the most part (which I will delve into in part 5). But there were about two or three times we clashed – not exactly argued – about Brooke’s diet while she was pregnant. Her diet always consisted of basic factory-made foods like cereal, ramen, and, her favorite, mac and cheese. I remember we were shopping at Winco shortly after finding out she’s pregnant, and she reached for handfuls of ramen noodles like she always did, but I said, “Brooke, I’m gonna have to make a rule… I can’t in good conscience let you eat ramen when you’re pregnant. Not when they make it out of the same stuff they make Styrofoam out of.” Brooke gave me a sad face, but it was her playful sad face, and so I interpreted that to mean she understood why I was putting my foot down about eating ramen pregnant, but was still sad about it.
When Brooke and I clashed about what she was eating during pregnancy, it was due to the fact she hardly changed her diet at all. On rare occasion, I saw her drinking fruit juice, but apart from that, she did nothing different. I felt like I had to push her to eat better foods. I remember at one point Brooke said, “I fell like, if she’s born and something’s wrong with her, you’re going to blame me for it.” And this was another instance of Brooke expressing something I didn’t want her to think. At the same time, though, I thought that if something is wrong with our baby, it very well could be from the lack of varying or nutritious foods… To exclude that possibility would have been unrealistic. She kept telling me that if she ate most healthy foods, she felt sick. I believed her, but I still worried about our child’s development. I remember one night Brooke ate some cereal and then ran to the bathroom to throw up in the toilet, and I rushed over to her to hold her hair back.
When it came to naming our daughter, Brooke had a few ideas, like Aurora and Artemis, but she couldn’t firmly decide any. For a long time, I couldn’t think of any names at all. But when I landed on a name, I knew it was what I wanted. I asked Brooke what I landed on, Brooke said she doesn’t like it or hate it. By this time, it was maybe 35 weeks into her pregnancy – it was close to delivery date – and so I waited for Brooke to find a name she was set on as well. But Brooke never landed on a name. So, I asked her if we can stick to the name I landed on, and she said okay, though she said it with zero enthusiasm. It was about a week before our daughter was born when I brought up the subject again, asking Brooke, “Was there a name you wanted more?” And Brooke reiterated that she didn’t, but she didn’t like the name I chose as much as she could have. So, the name I landed on was the name we stuck with.
Our daughter’s name translates to ‘peace, happiness, and gentleness.’
Brooke’s due date passed, and we scheduled to have her artificially induced. We both did some research as to why this would happen, and I kept running into dead ends that read things like, “It is still not known what exactly gets labor started naturally,” which was frustrating. But Brooke read about some things that might help our baby come along, and she wanted us to try those things, which included having sex and … let’s just say stimulation. Who knows if those things actually helped? I remember our baby kicked her mother a lot when she was still in there, and I had to tell our baby, “Don’t kick your mother.”
One night, for whatever reason, I wanted to sing to our daughter. I tried playing a couple ballads from my favorite band, such as “Swanheart” and “Sleeping Sun,” and I even tried singing those songs to her myself, despite my terrible singing voice. I thought at the very least, some music would help our baby not want to keep kicking her mother from inside the womb.
Just a day before we would have gone for Brooke to get artificially induced, she started going into labor. It was about 4am, and I woke up at random and saw her sitting up in bed breathing heavily. She said she was having a lot of contractions. We timed them, and sure enough, they were frequent enough to check in to the hospital.
Brooke was in labor from around 5am (officially) until 1am the next day. During that time, I did my absolute best to stay awake to remain supportive. She needed me to be her hands and feet, because all she could do for nearly 24 hours is push, when she had a contraction. When she was pushing our baby out, I saw a little hair on our baby’s head, which was happy news, because Brooke was born bald and she didn’t want our daughter to also be bald for a while. I think Brooke was pushing for five hours, and then she started losing progress (our daughter was going back in). That’s when the staff gave us the option of continue trying, use a vacuum, or do a cesarean. The staff left the room so Brooke and I could discuss it. I’ll admit I started crying, because by that point, Brooke said she was in pain, and she had just lost all her progress. If I remember correctly, doing a fully-natural birth was important to Brooke, and that made it even more emotional for me, because I thought the best option was a cesarean. I told Brooke I thought it was the best option, and she agreed, so that’s what we chose.
It was around 1am. When they brought her downstairs to the operation room, for some reason I was required to stand outside while the staff got everything ready. They let me enter right before they got started. They put a veil across Brooke’s chest, and I held her hand while they got going. Not long later, I heard one of the nurses say, “WOW! That’s a big baby!” Then, that was followed by the sound of a baby crying. Our daughter had just come into the world.
They lowered the veil so that we could see her for the first time. I squeezed Brooke’s hand in pure joy. They brought our daughter over to the scale for her weight and measurements. Brooke still couldn’t move, but I stood up to go over and hold our daughter’s hand – to feel her touch for the first time – before returning to Brooke’s side. At some point, they placed our daughter across Brooke’s chest, and I don’t remember if that was before or after they made the measurements… I’m fairly sure that was after the measurements, because I remember Brooke and I had small competitions when it came to our daughter, like if she’ll say “dadda” or “momma” first – things like that – and I remember thinking I scored one point by being the first with touch. (And Brooke’s own grandma confirmed our daughter said “dadda” first, so I got that point, too.)
That first night of our daughter’s life, she reacted poorly when one of us either touched her or spoke near her. If I remember correctly, on that first night, our daughter cried when Brooke touched her, but she cried whenever I spoke. I might have that reversed. But something like that certainly happened, and it was hilariously strange.
Lana and Larry were the first ones to meet our daughter. I will always be happy about that fact. They were the first ones, apart from Brooke and I and the hospital staff, of course.
The whole time we were there, I did everything in my power to stay awake, so that I could be Brooke’s hands and feet, since she was either in labor, or later was too weak to even roll over in bed. One time, I didn’t hear her calling for me because I had passed out, and when I woke up, I saw that she had exerted the effort to call a doctor. She was worried because our daughter’s fingertips were purple. I felt awful for not hearing her call me, and I still feel awful even though I know it’s not really a big deal.
I was physically and emotionally drained from everything that happened at the hospital, as happy as all of it was. So, the emotional impact of our daughter’s birth didn’t hit me until after we left the hospital. I remember it was two or three days after leaving the hospital, and we were preparing to go somewhere, and I simply looked over at our daughter, who was sound asleep in her car seat, situated on our bed, and that’s when I lost it. That’s when it hit me: My daughter is real… Frankly, to this day I still can’t believe she’s real. I still can’t believe I’m blessed enough to have such a treasure.